Valve’s video game marketplace Steam was created in 2013 as a digital content distribution channel before app stores existed. Its become a platform for creators and publishers to deliver content as part of a community of players and developers.
Steam has removed an indie game ‘Abstractism’ accused of deceptive practices and crypto jacking – the secret use of a user’s computing device to mine cryptocurrency through an unknowingly installed a program on their computer.
A number of users had complained that the game set up file included a Trojan virus and malware disguised in two files as “launcher” and “steam.exe processes”. On further investigation by other users, it was found that the infected files were actually Monero crypto miners.
The game itself was released on Steam in March through game developer Okalo Union and publisher dead.team. Motherboard suggests that the fact that that the developers encouraged users to keep the game running, even when not it use, should have been a warning to players. Extra in-game bonuses were offered for players happy to leave their game running.
Many users were alerted to a problem, noticing that running the game used excessive system resources, considering the size of the game which was relatively low key. They also noticed that the game triggered malware alerts.
Okalo Union, who developed the game, have denied all allegations claiming that sign of crypto mining such as increased CPU and GPU power use have been misread by users and were simply caused by playing on high graphics, although the following contradictory statement via Steam seems to suggest otherwise, the first part of which they later purported to be a joke:
“Bitcoin is outdated, we currently use Abstractism to mine only Monero coins. Abstractism does not mine any of cryptocurrency. Probably, you are playing on high graphics settings, because they take a bit of CPU and GPU power, required for post-processing effects rendering.”
According to a Valve representative via PCGamesN, they have “removed Abstractism and banned its developer from Steam for shipping unauthorized code, trolling with content, and scamming customers with deceptive in-game items”.
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